Why You Need an RFID Platform

June 24, 2013 Bill Colleran

Why You Need an RFID Platform?A few weeks ago at the RFID Journal Live conference in Orlando, Impinj showcased our GrandPrix platform.  We’ve been developing GrandPrix since 2005 with a vision of offering RFID users a comprehensive set of capabilities that maximize the potential of the UHF Gen 2 protocol and allow businesses to get the most from their investment in RFID.  Based on our market-leading Monza® tag chips, Speedway® readers and Indy® reader chips, the GrandPrix™ platform pulls together all of the key elements necessary to deliver Gen 2 RFID systems with the best performance in the industry.

Many people kick around the term platform without a crisp – or even generally agreed-upon – definition.  Like the word solution, platform means lots of different things to different people.  Below, I list the characteristics that I believe define a technology platform.

A technology platform integrates a complete set of products necessary to develop solutions.  Which elements of a solution are parts of the platform and which are parts of the broader ecosystem depends on the context and the market involved.  But, completeness is key; otherwise end users are forced to select their system’s components in a mix-and-match fashion from multiple vendors.  The mix-and-match approach loses all of the advantages that a platform-based system delivers.  I’ll discuss those advantages shortly.

With GrandPrix, Impinj offers an extensive and growing list of all of the components necessary to develop RFID solutions.  Today Impinj’s offerings include tag chips, reader chips, readers, antennas, software APIs and more highly integrated products like our STP encoding system and our Speedway xPortal and xArray reader systems which marry an RFID reader with phased antenna arrays.

Platform components are synergistic with each other so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts: 1 + 1 = 3.  A platform delivers functionality that is not available from any individual component acting alone.  As an example, Microsoft Office delivers important user benefits (arising from the interplay amongst Excel, Word and Powerpoint), that make the software suite compelling compared to an approach using stand-alone spreadsheets, word processors and presentation software.  MS Office enhances user efficiency by sharing a common GUI among its applications, and delivers tremendous value from the ability to easily embed Excel spreadsheet elements into Word and Powerpoint documents.

Synergistic functionality arises when GrandPrix components are used together too.  For example, our second generation Source Tagging Platform, STP 2.0, leverages the fast write capability in our Monza tag chips along with custom software running on our Speedway Revolution readers to enable the highest possible encoding rates for brand owners and service bureaus.  We also enable dramatic efficiency improvements for retailers looking to automate inventory-taking by providing Speedway software that exploits Monza’s TagFocus and FastID features.  Impinj’s product suite works together synergistically to deliver unmatched performance and functionality – one hallmark of a technology platform.

A platform offers interfaces (APIs and UIs) that others can build upon.  These interfaces remain stable even as technology evolves, and that continuity allows systems to work when components are upgraded – i.e., the system can be made future-proof.  For example, continuity of the Intel instruction set allows processor or computer upgrades without requiring new software.  This future-proof capability is now commonplace in technology systems, but the benefit is enormous.

Similarly, our Monza Self-Serialization feature is continuous across chip families so that when components are upgraded, the system is unaffected.  Monza Self-Serialization is a feature of Impinj’s latest Monza chips whereby we program the Tag Identification number, or TID, of each chip so that its unique information can be easily used to provide serialization for the Electronic Product Code, or EPC, programmed by the tag’s user at a later date.  Users can deploy systems relying upon Monza Self-Serialization with the confidence that future members of our Monza product family will implement Monza Self-Serialization that is compatible with existing, fielded systems.  As another example of GrandPrix’s flexibility, the Impinj Radio Interface, IRI, will allow software re-use even as radio hardware evolves and improves over time.  IRI is Impinj’s new interface definition that will be implemented on all of our reader chips and SiPs to allow portability of software applications across multiple hardware generations.  Again, users can develop systems confident that their investments will be leveraged on hardware that hasn’t even been designed yet.

  1. Complete set of products
  2. Interfaces that others build upon
  3. Interfaces that other build upon

Platform Advantages

The advantages of using a technology platform are as obvious as they are powerful.  Because platforms offer a complete set of products, systems can be deployed faster and designed for optimized performance.  The emergent properties of a platform allow for enhanced functionality compared to mix-and-match solutions.  And, platform-based systems can be future-proof because APIs allow for modular design.  While standards are important to enable ecosystems to emerge with healthy competition among participants, platforms are important because they accelerate adoption by making available highly integrated systems with enhanced performance and functionality that users can adopt without fear of early obsolescence.

Advantages of GrandPrix

What are the advantages of Impinj’s GrandPrix platform? First, GrandPrix, and all of its components, are fully Gen2 compliant. Impinj wrote the Gen2 protocol, and we’re focused on developing products that take full advantage of the standard’s capabilities and benefits. In addition, with the GrandPrix platform you get the Impinj advantage – best-of-breed performance of every component plus features that elevate the capability of any RFID system. Our customers know that by selecting GrandPrix they’ll get a solution that delivers more functionality, performance and flexibility than any other.

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